Holga Manual
–verb (without an object)
1. to play
“I’m gonna holga around with it.”
2. to innovate
In a world where technology changes and
advances every day, it’s refreshing that a
chunky utilitarian camera made almost
entirely of plastic has reawakened and is
enlightening the analog world of photography. Holga goes back to the bare
bones of photography and forces users to stop relying on all the bells and
whistles and simply shoot.
Holga is for those who want to create truly unique images - for those who
appreciate light leaks, enjoy slight soft focus and welcome retro vignetting.
“I’ll holga a way to use this film in that camera.”
3. to artistically capture images
“I can holga everything I think is beautiful.”
–verb (with an object)
4. to modify
“I totally holga-ed my car’s bumper with some duct tape.”
5. to make something one’s own interpretation
“It is a normal dishwasher until I holga it into a clam steamer.”
6. a plastic, toy camera
“I used a Holga to shoot my friends wedding.”
7. a person that uses their own sense of style and
artistry to interpret their surroundings.
“He’s such a Holga, always trying crazy new things.”
8. modified/personalized
“Wow, your bedroom is definitely Holga!”
9. quirky/hip/cool
“These new Silly Bands are Holga!”
©Dave Handler
- Holga 120PC
Due to its simple and inexpensive design, Holga is categorized as a toy
camera. The very features that personify the Holga would be considered
defects in any other camera. Holga’s lo-fi attributes create distinctive
images not created with any other conventional camera. These are the
reasons the Holga camera has gained a huge cult following.
The peculiar name Holga comes from its
Chinese heritage after the term “ho gwong”
meaning very bright. With a Western twist
one gets the name Holga.
The origins of Holga began in China in 1981. At the time, photography was
skyrocketing in popularity and the 120 film format was most pervasive.
Holga was introduced to the Chinese public as an inexpensive medium
format camera. Unfortunately for Holga, no one could have predicted the
enormous impact 35mm film would have on the Chinese market. In only a
few short years, Holga was overrun by its smaller format competitors.
© Sherry Lee Holga 135 with
Rollei Nightbird film
Teachers have employed Holga as a tool to educate students in the
fundamentals of photography while exploring unpredictable and unexpected
photos created by this camera. Professionals carry Holga for their fine-art
appeal. Holga gives all photographers the ability to dip their toes into the
otherwise very expensive world of medium format photography.
• Holga is a study in plastic imperfection. To use it is an exercise in
breaking free from the dependence on technology.
• Holga is a contender. Holga challenges our visual perception. Using a Holga
introduces us an unfamiliar view of the world. We notice more things, different
things, unusual things; which then take on new meaning and significance.
• Holga is a mentor; taking us under its wing and showing us a new way to
see and portray our world.
• Holga is a rebel, a rule breaker. To use Holga is to utterly change the point of
reference most people use to interpret photography.
• Holga is an artist’s assistant. Its retro image aesthetic in combination with the
photographer’s creative choices yields an unexpected work of art.
©Francesca di Leo
- Holga 120N with
120 Fisheye Lens
Word of an all-plastic camera spread west and its popularity grew. Tens of
thousands of cameras were sold in twenty different countries with almost
no change in the original design.
By 2001, over a million Holgas had been sold worldwide. A micro industry
emerged with some making a living by simply modifying and accessorizing
the Holga. Today, the array of Holga cameras and accessories available
reflects its continued popularity.
In 2011, the Holga Camera celebrated its 30th Anniversary. Global
communities of photographers, students, amateurs and even celebrities
and athletes have fully embraced Holga and its unique attributes.
The movement continues to expand with new websites appearing from
Holga devotees from all over the globe. Search “Holga” on the internet and
you will find not only a plethora of groups and galleries, but also many sites
selling the ever expanding Holga line of cameras and accessories. Analog
photography is safe in the hands of Holga.
In a world where technology continues to advance, Holga’s vintage lo-fi
appeal continues to grow and intrigue people.
All versions of Holga areessentially
made entirely of plastic, with the
exception of the shutter assembly.
What really defines Holga is its plastic lens. The focal length is approximately
60mm for the 120 format cameras and 47mm for the 35mm format
cameras. To focus, rotate the barrel of the lens to the icon displayed that
best corresponds to the shooting situation. The focal length ranges from 3
feet to infinity.
e Garcia
l Tullberg
Since Holga is a completely manual camera, film
advance is all up to the photographer. After the first
shot, advance the film one full frame to the next image
or shoot limitless times on the same frame to create a
multiple exposure. By advancing only partially, you can
create panoramic or overlapping images.
Holga 120FN has a built in white flash. To add some color, there is Holga
120CFN which has a color wheel filter in the flash. Any Holga which does not
have a built in flash has a standard hot shoe mount that can accommodate
any non-dedicated flash unit. Holga offers many styles of non-dedicated
flashes to choose from. Holga can even fire strobe lights with the on camera
flash or by using a hot shoe-to-PC adapter.
The shutter speed of a Holga is approximately 1/100 of a second. There is
the added option to put the camera in “B” bulb setting. The bulb setting
allows the shutter to stay open for as long as necessary for long exposures.
This makes it possible to do night photography, getting images without a flash
in low light situations or even painting with light. Both a tripod and cable
release are recommended when using
the Holga in the bulb setting.
©Kristina Lou
©Dave Handler
A Holga has two aperture settings; f/11 for sunny days and f/8 for cloudy
days. There are some that say these f-stops are so close that they are
undistinguishable from one another but try them out and see.
Holga 120 models use
120 medium format film
and have two film masks
for two different image
options. The 6x4.5cm
mask is for a vertical,
rectangular image and
the 6x6cm mask is for
a square image. When
using the 6x4.5cm mask
the result is 16 images;
using the 6x6cm mask
yields 12 images. Make
sure to switch the arrow
on the counter window to
correspond with the mask
being used.
Holga 135 models use
35mm film and do not
require a mask. To have
the best of both worlds,
an adapter is available to
convert 120 format Holgas
to accept 35mm film.
All Holgas come with a camera strap and a standard tripod mount. Holgas
with a built-in flash require two AA batteries to power the flash.
Because Holga’s two approximate
aperture settings are identified
as “sunny” and “not so sunny”, much of Holga’s flexibility is in the film.
You can shoot under almost any lighting condition by choosing an average
speed film and pushing or pulling it as necessary. (Pushing film is a term for
rating the ISO film speed higher than the film is designed for. The film is
then developed for a longer time, increasing the effective sensitivity of the
film, compensating for the under exposure in the camera. Therefore, you
can shoot a roll of 100 ISO with the intention of having it processed at 400
ISO. Simply instruct your lab to, in this case, push two stops. Pulling is the
opposite of pushing and is much less commonly used.)
TIP: On sunny days, use a 100, 160, 200 or 400 ISO B&W or color negative film.
On gloomy days or late in the afternoon, an 800 ISO film might be necessary.
For near sunset or indoor situations, an ISO 1600 or 3200 is recommended.
For those just starting out with the Holga, the easiest film to use is C-41
color or black and white film since it is more forgiving and can be developed
at most 1-hour photo labs.
Slide films are recommended primarily for the Holga 3D Stereo. Slides
are film positives that are viewed with slide viewers. Slide film can also
be cross-processed to get printed photographs. (Cross processing is a
development process where slide film is processed in chemicals intended
for negative print film. Cross processed photographs are characterized by
being contrasty and having unnatural or color shifted colors. Results may
vary greatly from roll to roll and print to print.)
EXPOSURE TIPS: Holga’s lens is fairly low contrast (it is plastic, after all) and
tends to lose detail in the shadow areas. For black and white negative film,
the rule of thumb is to expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights.
Even color negative film can benefit from the habit of over exposing slightly.
Leo ©Francesca di
Instax Camera
e Filter on Fuji
Holga Split Imag
It is recommended to load
and unload all film in subdued
light to prevent any unwanted
1. Remove the clips from the
sides of the camera to open
the back.
2. Select the mask for either
16 images (6x4.5cm) or 12
images (6x6cm) and insert
into the camera. Shooting
without a mask also yields 12
images and can lead to more
intense vignetting.
3. If the Holga has a built-in flash unit, install two AA
batteries under the film mask on either side.
4. Slide the arrow on the back cover to point to the corresponding image
count for the mask that was inserted.
5. Make sure there is a take up spool on the right side of the camera and
break the seal on the new 120 roll of film and insert on the left side of the
6. Place pressure on the bottom of the new roll of film and pull out the
paper backing. Insert the tapered edge into the slot in the take up spool.
7. Turn the film advance knob a couple of turns. Keep the film tight to
prevent any slack.
8. Please note that it is important to keep 120 film tight to the spool.
This protects the film from exposure since
it is not in a canister. If you have an older
Holga or the foam padding has fallen off,
inserting a piece of cardboard under the
film spool can keep the film tight.
9. Replace the camera back and
make sure the clips are in place. It is
recommended to put a piece of tape
over the clips to prevent the back
from slipping open.
10. Turn the film advance knob until
the number 1 appears in the counter
window on the back of the camera.
Now your Holga is ready to shoot.
LOOSE FILm: Unlike 35mm film, 120
film spools have no light-tight canister
to protect them from exposure; the
only guard against the sun is its thin
paper backing. If your film is not
rolled tightly, light can sneak in under
the loose paper causing light leaks or
even fogging.
1. After shooting the last frame,
either 12 or 16 depending on the mask
used, turn the film advance knob until
the film and paper is completely rolled
onto the take up reel.
2. Open the back of the Holga. The exposed film should be in the film chamber
on the right. An empty film spool will be in the film chamber on the left. Save
the empty spool, as this is now the new take up reel for the next roll of film.
1. When the roll of film is finished, put
the lens cap on the camera to avoid
any double exposures.
3. Extract the now exposed spool from the right film chamber. Make sure
that the film is wound tightly around the spool. Fold the tapered end under
itself as directed on the paper backing then seal the film with the provided
adhesive tab.
2. Push down on the film rewind release button on the bottom of the
turning the knob. Keep turning the knob until there is no tension, indicating
the film is rewound.
3. Turn the film rewind knob clockwise. There will be some tension while
4. Pull up on the film rewind knob. The back cover will open and you can
safely remove the film.
1. There are no masks included
with 35mm Holgas. To load the
film, pull up on the film rewind
knob. The back cover will pop
2. Insert a new roll of film in the
film compartment on the left
side of the camera.
Much of Holga’s unpredictability due
to the light leaks. Many Holga owners
look forward to the light leaks but for those
who are not a fan, taping up the Holga is another option.
The best tape to use is black gaffer’s tape or black photo tape which is
readily available at most photo and studio lighting retailers and even
hardware stores. The tape is re-positionable and generally pulls off cleanly.
3. Pull the film out of the
camera until the tip of the film reaches
the take up spool. Then insert the tip of the film into the slot
on the take up spool.
ga 120N
omas - Hol
©Randy Th
eye Lens
with Fish
4. Turn the film advance slightly so that the teeth catch the sprocket holes
on the film.
5. Snap the cover back into place and turn the film advance knob to advance
the film until it cannot turn any further and then press the shutter.
6. Repeat this until the number 1 appears in the frame counter window.
Now your Holga is ready to shoot.
©Dave Hand
ler - 35mm film
in Holga 120N
, Red Light Le
urg hael Tullb
20N, Red
Holga 1
Light Le
There are no guarantees to
completely make the Holga
light tight but following these
recommendations may complete
the task.
Run pieces of black tape along
the seam where the back fits
onto the body.
Cover the metal clips that secure
the camera back. This will prevent them from
falling off the Holga, especially when you use the camera strap.
Some choose Velcro strips instead of tape to hold the clips in place, resulting
in easier access while changing film and less tape residue left on fingers.
Long exposures are easily
achieved when using the
“Bulb” setting on your
Holga camera.
mount the camera on
a tripod and set the
exposure switch to the
“B” position.
release button and
keep it down as long as
desired. Release the
button to close the
shutter and complete
- Holga 12
0N, Long
the picture taking cycle.
ght Pain
If you have a standard Holga 120N, removing the mask reveals two holes
above the lens that can cause light leaks. A single piece of tape can cover
them both.
32) are highly recommended to reduce camera shake and blur on long
©Michael Tullbe
The most notorious light leak in the camera comes from the film counter
window. Cover the window with a piece of tape. Fold the tape at the end
to create a convenient pull flap.
Keep the camera in your camera bag to minimize the impact of unwanted light.
Although the inside of the camera is black, it is a lustrous black, which
can reflect unwanted light that manages to make it inside. This can be
countered by painting the interior of the camera matte black, which cuts
down on reflections.
TIP: Use of a tripod and Holga’s Cable Release (see page
, Long Exposure
rg - Holga 120N
When finished, remember
to set the “B” exposure
switch back to the “N”
(Normal) setting or you
may end up with a roll of
pictures full of motion i.e.
blur. However, this is not
necessarily a bad thing;
some incredibly amazing
images have been created
by people who forgot.
Holga 120N is modeled after the original Holga
released in 1981. The latest resurgence of toy
cameras stems from the love of this classic black
utilitarian camera. Holga 120N has a hot-shoe
attachment to add a flash or even strobe.
Holga 120FN is modeled after the Holga 120N but
has a built-in flash instead of a hot shoe.
For the added benefit of color, Holga 120CFN has
a built-in flash with color wheel, to add a splash of
red, yellow or blue to your images.
A newer addition to the Holga 120 family is the
Holga TLR camera, which has all the features of
the Holga CFN but with a Twin Lens Reflex retro
top-down viewfinder.
Holga 120G is simply Holga’s glass lens cousin,
which some say produces slightly sharper images.
The Holga 120GN corresponds to the 120FN and
the Holga 120GFN corresponds to the 120CFN.
For most of Holga’s history, the Holga 120 family
was only available in black. Then came the
Holgawood collection! Inspired by “Tinsel Town”,
it is a line of colored Holga 120N cameras. The
Holgawood lights shine bright on colors like Blooze
Brothers Blue, Pretty in Pink and Casablanco
White. There are 10 colors to collect in all!
In 2005, Holga went into limited production of two
35mm Holga models, which
sold out quickly and became collector’s items. Encouraged by the success
of these cameras, Holga created three new versions of the Holga 35mm
models: Holga 135, Holga 135BC & Holga 135PC.
Modeled after the Holga 120, Holga 135 cameras have
the same characteristics, but are meant for those who
prefer 35mm format film.
The 35mm Holgas have a cable release adapter located
in the shutter release button, therefore the Holga
shutter release set is not needed for these cameras; a
basic cable release will do.
The 35mm family starts with the basic 35mm
camera, Holga 135, a more compact version
of Holga 120.
To acheive more of Holga’s trademark
vignetting, try Holga 135BC. With an
internal non-removable mask, the Holga
135BC (bent corners) renders Holga’s retroish vignetting in every image.
ga 135
©Pablo Chanez - Hol
with Rollei Crossbird
Holga pinhole models
are available in the
120 and 35mm format.
Holga pinholes have
essentially the same
Holga bodies with
the lens replaced by
a pinhole. This lensless body produces
infinite depth of field,
meaning everything
in the scene will be
and detailed.
The basic principle of pinhole photography is that light passes through a
pinhole rather than a lens to expose the film directly. The image on the film
will be reversed but the advantage is there is no optical distortion so there
is no need to focus and the angle of view is much greater.
Both a tripod and cable release are highly recommended to use with
pinhole photography because the exposure times will be much longer than
when shooting conventionally.
©Dave Handler
- Holga 120PC
The Holga family of pinhole cameras starts with the Holga 120PC. This is the
standard Holga body with a pinhole instead of a lens.
Holga WPC (Wide Angle Panoramic) shoots 120 film in unique panoramic
sizes; either 6x9cm or 6x12cm format for a super wide angle view.
Another part of the Holga pinhole family is the Holga 135PC. This camera is
modeled after the Holga 135mm camera but without the lens.
Finally, there is the Holga 3D
Stereo Pinhole camera.
camera shoots two pinhole
images per shutter for dual side
by side images. These images can
then be mounted to view in
3D with a 3D viewer.
For more information
about 3D photography,
check out the Holga
Stereo section on pages
20 & 21.
Since there are no standard exposure times for pinhole photography, a guide
with approximate exposure times, to be used as a starting point, is below.
The key is to bracket. (Bracketing is an exposure technique of taking several
shots of the same subject with the same framing using different camera
settings. Thus having at least 3 exposures of the same image, one slightly
under exposed, one exposed with the proper settings and one slightly over
exposed.) For pinhole photography, it is necessary to adjust the amount of
time each frame is exposed for.
100 ISO
1 sec.
5 sec.
½ sec.
4 sec.
½ sec
2 sec
30+ sec
25+ sec
18+ sec
©Dave Handler - Hol
ga 120WPC
Recalling the days before movies and radio, Holga stereo 3D cameras
produce analog stereo images that pop out in true 3D when viewed with
the stereo viewer. It is a great way to see Holga images beyond the 2D
confines of paper and film. Holga Stereo 3D Cameras uses two lenses to
take two side-by-side images. These images are then mounted together to
create the 3D effect. Three cameras make up the Holga Stereo Line: Holga
120-3D Stereo, Holga 120PC-3D Stereo Pinhole and Holga 135-3D Stereo.
Holga 120-3D Camera uses four AA batteries to operate its built-in flashes.
Holga 3D pinhole does not have flashes and does not require batteries, nor
does the Holga 135-3D as it is outfitted with a standard hot shoe mount.
6. When processing Holga images at a lab, instruct the lab NOT to cut your
1. Cut the film into the pairs of images. Cut as straight as possible.
TIP: To get the best 3D results, the Holga stereo cameras should be used with
ISO 400 or higher slide films. Load the film as normal but remember the film
will stretch across two frames. Negative film can be used but images then
need to be printed to size to fit the mounts being used.
2. Interchange the position of the two images when placing them carefully
1. Always make sure to remove both lens caps before shooting.
2. Always make sure the focus, flash and shutter settings match for
both lenses.
3. When advancing the film you MUST advance two frames. Two frames
are shot with every 3D exposure. For example, if frame 1 was just shot,
advance to frame 3.
4. To enhance the 3D effect, compose the image with the third dimension
in mind. Make sure there are objects on the different planes of the
photo (foreground, middle ground and background).
5. If you are too close to an object it will naturally be out of focus.
However, when this happens in a 3D image it is very disorienting to the
eye and makes the whole image difficult to look at. Try to make sure
your foreground plane is at least 3 feet away.
film; as you will cut it yourself.
When using the 3D Holga Viewer, 3D slide mounts are necessary.
It is important to prepare the mounts properly to achieve a 3D image.
in the bottom slide mount. (For example, if the two images are on
frame “1” and “2”, place frame “2” on the left side of the slide mount
and frame “1” on the right side.)
3. Careful alignment in the slide mount is important for the success
of the image.
4. Tape the edges of the side of the image to the mount.
5. Place the top frame on the bottom frame and gently snap it into
position. Tape the edges of the mounts closed.
6. Put the slide mount into your Holga viewer and aim at a light source.
As with the Holga 120PC and the Holga 135PC, it is best to use with the
Holga Shutter Release and a tripod.
nez - Holga TIM
©Lauren Marti
Holga 135TIM (Twin Image
Maker) is a 35mm 1/2 frame,
multi-image camera, smiles
and all. How could your
subject not smile with this
smiling back at them? This
little gem can shoot two
half-frame exposures at
the same time. Or, even
beter, shoot two very
different half size images
on one 35mm negative.
Each image taken, be it
identical or not, occupies
only half of the regular
35mm film frame. A 36-exp
roll of film will now have 72
independent frames.
Because TIM has two lenses, making individual half-format shots with each
lens will add a few more steps to the picture-taking process.
When shooting with Holga
TIM, pay close attention to
the aperture settings on its
“smile”. These settings are
much more specific than
on other Holga’s. There are
three different aperture
settings: a sun (roughly
f/22), cloud and sun
(roughly f/11) and cloud
(roughly f/8). Do not ever
leave the setting between
two apertures on Holga
TIM, as nothing will be
On Holga TIM’s “face” there is a cover, or “eyelid” for each of its lenses,
or “eyes.” To take an image, open up the left eyelid leaving the other one
closed. Press the shutter release button, then press the MX button to recock the shutter, close the first eyelid and open the other. Take your second
image and wind the film to the next frame.
As with all Holgas, multiple exposures are possible. For Holga TIM, leave an
“eye” open and press the MX button to re-cock the shutter. Take photo as
normal, knowing that you will now have overlapping images on that frame.
As with all Holgas, multiple exposures are possible. For Holga TIM, leave an
“eye” open and press the MX button to re-cock the shutter. Take photo as
normal, knowing that you will now have overlapping images on that frame.
Making dual images is much simpler than individual ones, just open up both
of Holga TIM’s “eyelids” and shoot. This will produce two nearly identical
pictures in the 35mm frame. The best results come when shooting a subject
between about 3 feet to 12 feet away.
To get prints ready for viewing:
1. Be sure that prints made measure 3 ½x5 inches. This is the ideal size for
viewing pictures through a Holga Stereo Viewer.
2. Cut the print in half
vertically and flip flop the
images so that the original
left image is now on the
right, and vice-versa.
Tape the images down
to a 3 ½ x5 inch card and
your stereo image is now
ready for viewing.
©Lauren Martinez
- Holga TIM
Holga 120N and Holga 35mm have standard
hot shoes, so any simple non-dedicated
standard mount camera flash will work.
To shoot with studio strobes, we
recommend using an on-camera flash and equipping your strobes with
photo slaves. You can also use a hot shoe-to-PC adapter, which allows you
to hook up directly to an off-camera flash or strobe pack with a sync cord.
NOTE: Every Holga will trigger the flash twice — once at shutter
depression and once at shutter release! Be sure to pause in between or
you risk damaging the flash or strobes.
The Holga Manual Electronic Flash is the primary accessory for a Holga with
a hot shoe mount. This basic manual flash includes a PC cord so that it can
also be used with other cameras. It is powered with 4 AA batteries and has
a guide number of 72ft/22m at 100 ISO. It gives approximately 200 flashes
at 1/1000th of a second and has a 6-8
second recycle time. Color temperature
is 5600 ° K and the angle of illumination
is 60 ° H 45 ° V.
Designed with the creative Holga
Shooter in mind, the Holgon MF Flash
fits on a standard hot shoe mount
and is a standard flash unit with
benefits such as built-in multiple
flash capabilities and a bounce head
feature. There are two flash modes
r on MFC
available: SF MODE (Standard Single
- 120N with Red Filte
©Francesca di Leo
Flash Mode) where each time the unit is triggered
the Holgon MF will flash only once. MF MODE (Multiple Flash Mode) is
used with the camera exposure setting on “B” (Bulb mode for manual long
exposures). Each time the flash unit is activated, it will flash at the rate of
approximately two flashes per second through the duration of the exposure.
The purpose is to creatively capture
a series of motions against a dark
background. The bounce head can be
used in the SF Mode to soften shadows.
It is powered with 4 AA batteries and
has a guide number of 21ft/6.5m at 100
ISO. The interval of multiple flashes is
approximately 0.5 seconds with a color
temperature of 5600 ° K and the angle
of illumination is 60 ° H 50 ° V. A PC cord
is included for use with other cameras
and has an adjustable locking ring to
secure the flash to the hot shoe socket.
©Francesca di Leo - Holg
a 120N with
Blue Filter on MFC Flash
HOLGA 160s/mB 120 sYNCH FLAsH
The Holga 160S/MB 120 Synch Flash is a slim pocket sized master/slave flash
that comes with an attachable mounting bracket. The mounting bracket
can be used to attach the flash to some cameras without hot shoe sockets
or it can be used as a freestanding holder. Since the flash is equipped with
both a hot shoe and a photo sensor it be conveniently used on or off the
camera. Slave flashes are fantastic at adding additional light from different
angles. Your on camera flash will trigger your slave flash as long as it is
within line sight of the sensor. Use the built in filters to add a color splash
to the image. Powered by two AA batteries, this flash gives approximately
200 flashes at 1/1000th of a second with a 4-6 second recycle time. It has
a guide number of 12, color temperature of 5600 ° K and coverage angles
of 60 ° H 40 ° V to give you that extra burst of light you need. Multiple slave
flashes set throughout the scene can creatively add light and color, where
only one flash simply cannot achieve such an imaginative look.
A small, yet powerful mini manual flash; the Holga 12MQ has a guide
number of 40 and works with any hot shoe mount. It has a test button,
ready light, takes two AA batteries and gives approximately 180 flashes at
1/2000th of a second with a 3 second recycle time. The color temperature
is 5700 ° K and the angle of illumination is 55 ° H 40 ° V - quick and powerful
for being so tiny.
©Emmalee Ga
d Close-up Ring
- Holga 120N an
The Holga Close-Up Ring Flash is
designed for use with Holga 120 and
135 cameras. It is equipped with a
ring shaped flash tube to provide 360°
illumination to offer even lighting
and elimination of shadows. The
maximum effective distance of the
flash is 500mm; great for close-up
and macro work. It also includes four
different color filters of blue, red,
yellow and green.
©Maria Ruvalcaba Holga 120N,
painting with light and
Holga Manual
Electronic Flash
The Holga 120MFC is a pocket sized
black Holga flash that is very simple
to use and has a ready light, test
button, and 5 filters (blue, yellow,
red, green and diffusion). It will fit
on any Holga or other camera with a
standard hot shoe socket. The flash
is powered by one AA battery which
gives approximately 180 flashes at
1/1000th of a second with a 6-8 second
recycle time. It has a guide number of
12, color temperature of 5600° K and
coverage angles of 60° H 50° V to give
you that extra burst of light you need.
(“S” is for Smile) The cute small
smiley faced Holga 12S Flash is
available in various colors to match
Holga TIM. It is very simple to use
and has a ready light, test button,
and 5 filters. It will fit on any Holga
a 120N, long Filter
llberg - Holg
©Michael Tu Holga 12S Flash with Re
or other camera with a standard hot shoe socket. The flash is powered by
one AA battery which gives approximately 180 flashes at 1/1000th of a
second with a 6-8 second recycle time. It has a guide number of 12, color
temperature of 5600° K and coverage angles of 60° H 50° V, giving you that
extra burst of light you need.
All Holga lens attachments
fit over the barrel of the
existing Holga lens.
The HOLGA WIDE ANGLE LENS broadens the horizon with an ultra wide
view. It yields approximately a .5x wider field of view than the standard
Holga lens. There is a slight increase in vignette and cool image distortion.
The HOLGA TELEPHOTO LENS brings your subject closer. It yields
approximately a 2.5x magnification over Holga’s standard lens.
There are a few versions of the Holga
Fisheye lens. Each lens gives a 60-degree
view to stretch and squeeze the image
into a circular frame.
Holga 135
Garcia with Wide
Angle Lens
For the Holga 120, there is the black
or silver metal FISHEYE LENS FOR
HOLGA. This glass fisheye lens
attaches to the front of Holga 120
cameras with a custom adapter ring.
The glass lens provides unusually
sharp images. It is not recommended
to use this lens with the built-in flash
of the Holga 120FN or 120CFN as
the lens may vignette the flash. The
weight and look of this lens, moves
the Holga from toy to a camera of substance.
Holga plastic fisheye lenses have two models, one for the Holga 135,
HOLGA PLASTIC 35MM FISHEYE LENS and one for the Holga 120,
HOLGA PLASTIC 120 FISHEYE LENS. These lenses provide the same
60-degree view but with a plastic lens for a greater spread of soft vignetting
that is expected from the Holga.
TIP: The sweet spots on the macro and close-up lenses are very specific. Special
attention must be made when measuring for focus. To make things easier,
have a dedicated string or camera strap with clearly marked measurements
corresponding to the lenses. Stretch the strap from subject to lens for perfect
focus every time. It sure beats carrying around a tape measure!
©Sherry Lee - Holga 120N
with Fisheye Lens
©Francesca di Leo
- Holga 120N wit
h 120 Fisheye
The HOLGA MACRO LENS ADAPTER SET adds a new dimension to
your Holga camera...Macro! This set of two macro lens adapters is designed
to work on both Holga 35mm and 120 series cameras for extra close-up
work. The ML-30 lens has a focal length of 30mm (unbelievably close!) and
the ML-60 lens has a focal length of 60mm. Simply snap these lenses over
the standard Holga lens, set the focus to infinity, carefully measure the
distance, then shoot. It’s that easy! And the results are so Big!
The HOLGA CLOse-uP LeNs ADAPTer seT adds the next
dimension to your Holga camera...Close-Up! This set of three snap-on
close-up lens adapters is designed to work on both Holga 35mm and 120
series cameras for extra close-up work. This set includes the CL-120 lens
(focal length of 120mm), CL-250 lens (focal length of 250mm), and CL-500
lens (focal length of 500mm). They come in a tiny plastic case to keep
them safe in your camera bag. As with the Macro lenses, snap the lens
over the standard Holga lens, set the focus to infinity, carefully measure
your distance, then shoot.
marry the fun and look of Holga with
the convenience of digital. Versions
to fit Canon and Nikon bodies are
available and compatible with both
manufacturer’s film and digital SLR
cameras. The DSLR lens is a Plastic
Optical Lens, f/8, 60mm and has the
standard Holga symbol adjustable
focusing. Although the lens does
not allow the traditional vignetting
or light leaks Holga is known for, it
does enable the use of all of Holga
lens and filter accessories, allowing
instant viewing of your creations.
The DSLR pinhole lens adds the
fun of pinhole photography to
your DSLR camera.
©Sherry Lee
Holga DSLR
Lens with 12
Fisheye Lens
©Sherry Lee
Holga DSLR
Pinhole Lens
To enhance the world of Holga, a Holga
Lens and Filter Holder is a must. This over
the lens mount allows the user to attach
the various filter sets to the front of the
Holga. Once the filter holder is in place,
new possibilities become available with
each filter that is slipped in.
For many, this is the next step
towards becoming a full-fledged
Holga maniac. Long sought after by
Holga users, the aesthetic values of
the instant film match that of the Holga perfectly. The Holga Instant Film
Back turns the Holga into the most unique instant camera there is. The back
fits on the Holga 120 series and accommodates Fuji FP 3.25 x 4.25 instant
films. The Holga instant back comes with a 6x6 film mask, a .3x diopter
(which must be put on the Holga lens in order to get focused pictures) and
an external viewfinder for precise composition within the frame.
The Color Filter Set includes red, yellow,
blue, and green filters and can be used
to create bold, vibrant images or to
th blue Co
adjust the tonality of black and white
- Holga 135 wi
photographs. In true Holga fashion, there are no contrast
or color-correction numbers on the filters.
This set includes a four-facet lens with center focus, a three-facet vertical
lens and a three-facet pyramid lens. Each filter in this set will surprise and
please any photographer as it splits, repeats and blends in totally unique
ways. These filters do not allow for symmetrical
effects when using a DSLR Holga Lens. However
the distortions are still very fun.
With a clear center, each of these four filters
has a pattern specifically designed to enhance
the Holga’s natural focus vignetting. Drawing
the eye toward the center of an image, these
filters are excellent for unique documentary,
portrait and fine art style images. Set of
four includes red, yellow, blue, and neutral
di Leo - Holga
Image FIlter
on Fuji Insta
For those that have the Fuji Instax Mini 7s cameras, you can now Holgify
instant images with the Holga Filter & Lens Adapter Set for Fuji Instax 7S
Camera. This adapter kit enables the use of a full series of mini Holga lenses
and accessories. Upon installation of the adapter, one is open to a whole new
world of creative possibilities. The kit includes the LFA-F7S Adapter, LFH135K Lens Holder, DCFS-135K Double Color Filter Set, SILS-135K Split Image
Filter Set, CFS-135K Color Filter Set, SSFS-135K Soft Surround Filter Set, and
CGFS-135K Color Gradation Filter Set. Other available kits include Macro,
Telephoto, Wide Angle or Fisheye Lenses.
A must have for every Holga! This
custom adapter fits snugly over the lens of your
camera allowing you to use a cable release. It also does not interfere with
the tripod mount and Bulb setting switch on the Holga 120 cameras. In
addition, the cable release can be used separately from the adapter for use
on all Holga 135 and Holga 120WPC Cameras.
The 35mm Film Adaptor Kits allow the use of 35mm film in Holga 120 (FA135120) and Holga 120 Stereo (FA135-120/3D) medium format cameras. In
order to remove 35mm film from the Holga 120 cameras after it has been
exposed, simply use a changing bag or go in to a light tight darkroom to
extract the film. Wind the film back into the safety of its metal cartridge
before returning to the light.
Vertical Viewer Attachment (VV-120 & VV-SH 135)turns the standard Holga
120 or 135 cameras into a Holga twin lens reflex for a top down view.
Sometimes a simple modification to a Holga camera can create outstanding
results. There are several ways to experiment with the Holga and having
more than one Holga camera is recommended since some modifications
can be permanent.
One can create their own custom
look for the Holga by doing
their own decorating. Find fun
and inventive ways to personalize the Holga with stickers, beads,
fur or anything else lying around. The possibilities are endless!
Otherwise, here are a few more practical changes.
One can make their own unique border around images by creating a
personalized mask. Take some dark paper or cardboard and cut it to an
8x7cm rectangle. Then fold in 1cm on each side so that the center is 6x7cm.
Cut a custom pattern
in the center and
custom mask inside
the back of the
The batteries will
have to be taped
into place for the
120FN and 120CFN
if a custom mask is
being used.
This easy mod will reduce lens flare. Just get some tape and dark paper or
cardboard and fashion a ring that will fit snugly onto the lens barrel. There
are also hood patterns that one can download from the Internet.
Besides the Holga filters that are already available, a Holga can be modified
to use traditional filters. The barrel of a Holga lens is 46mm. Get a step-up
ring of 46-49 to add a filter thread to the Holga lens. Firmly twist this stepup ring into the pliable plastic lens of the Holga. Glue this to the barrel of the
Holga lens and then attach a 49mm filter to the thread of the step up ring.
HOLGA 120 ADAPTeD FOr 35mm FiLm -- sPrOCkeT HOLes!
There are two ways one can adapt Holga 120 to use 35mm film:
• Customize
Cut foam inserts to center and secure the cartridge of a roll of 35mm film
where the roll of 120 film normally goes. The idea is to make sure the film
stays centered and travels straight across the film plane behind the lens.
Pull the leader of the 35mm film out and stretch it across to the 120
take-up spool. Tape the film securely to the spool. Wind the film,
making sure the film is centered on the take-up spool. Replace the
camera back and shoot.
With your film loaded, you must completely tape up the film counter
window because there is no protective paper backing on 35mm film.
(If you accidentally leave the film counter window uncovered, you will
expose your film — and usually not in a good way.)
Because the window must be taped, there are no numbers to count
exposures. You will have to estimate how far to advance the film after each
shot. It involves counting the clicks as you wind the film: about 34 clicks
per each 6x6cm frame. After you process your own film you will notice an
increasingly wider gap between frames. If you feel like compensating, you
can reduce the number of clicks by 1 for every three exposures.
The benefits of modifying in this way are truly striking and unique.
The image is much longer than the standard 35mm frame. The entire
section of film is exposed, including the sprocket holes. It is a type of
image unlike any other, instantly recognizable upon viewing.
• 35mm Adapter kit
Simply buy Holga’s 35mm Adaptor Kit. However, the kit differs from the
modification just listed in a very significant way: it makes the camera
shoot in a standard 35mm frame —- in other words, the sprocket holes
and panorama effects are not attainable with the prefabricated kit.
Whether you’re using the kit or making your own mod, after you are
done shooting (when the film no longer advances), you must remove
film in total darkness. A changing bag or a darkroom should be used.
When processing at a lab, make sure to instruct them not to cut your
film during processing.
©Lauren Martinez
“ Take your Holga out for a ride.
– Kit Frost,
Professional Photographer
– Joe Ostraff, Professor, BYU
– Robert Hirsch, Photographic Historian, in his book
Photographic Possibilities (with J. Valentino. Focal Press 2001)
– Lesley Krane, educator at California State University, Northridge
– Sandy Carrion, Coordinator of the Krappy Kamera Competition.
- 35mm Film in Hol
ga 120N
– Julia Dean, founder of the Julia Dean Photographic Workshops.
– Randy Thomas, National ADDY Award Winner and owner
of Randy Thomas Design agency.
Ask me.
Q: my pictures are dark in the corners. What am i doing wrong?
A: Dark corners? But that’s what you want! The dark corners on a Holga
image, called vignetting, are one of Holga’s many charms. If you prefer
less dramatic vignetting try using the 6x4.5cm mask.
Q: my pictures are more than fuzzy, they are blurry. What happened?
Q: Can i shoot both black and white and color photos in my Holga?
A: Check the bottom of the camera. Make sure you have the shutter
speed switch in “N” for Normal. (“B” for bulb is for long exposures)
A: Of course you can. There are three types of film available;
black and white, color negative and color slide film.
Q: Can i use Holga FN or CFN with studio strobes?
Q: What is slide film?
A: Yes. Set up your lighting with a photo slave. It triggers your strobes
when the camera’s built-in flash goes off. Just make sure that the
slaves are close enough to pick up the camera’s flash.
A: Slide film is a positive transparency film well known for its vivid color
saturation. Historically used for commercial purposes like fashion
shoots, landscapes and product photography; just about any thing
you’d see in a magazine. Feeling adventurous? Ask your lab to
cross-process your slide film for exciting color shifts!
Q: Can i use infrared film in Holga?
A: Yes, but the impact of light leaks can be more pronounced on infrared
films. Make sure your Holga doesn’t leak light by taping up all
the seams.
Q: What is the easiest film to use?
A: Color negative film with a 400 ISO is a great film to start with. It tends
to be more forgiving than other films and can be processed at most
labs. If your heart is set on black and white, there are also some black
and white films which can be processed in color chemistry (C-41) that
are available. Ask your local photo dealer for more information.
Q: i’ve had my Holga for a long time, but now my pictures are way
overexposed. What’s wrong?
Q: Where can i process my film?
Q: Can i enter my Holga images in photo contests?
A: All 35mm film can be processed at any 24 hour photo processing
center (including drugstores). To process 120 film, check your local
professional photo labs. If not, your local Holga dealer can usually
provide film developing mailers or a contact number to a local lab.
A: Absolutely. Holga images have become increasingly accepted in
photo competitions. The most prolific is probably the annual Krappy
Kamera competition, held by the Soho Gallery in New York. For details
visit: www.sohophoto.com.
A: Your Holga’s shutter spring may have finally worn out…time for a new
Holga! But don’t throw away your old one—feel free to tinker with it
and come up with exciting new modifications of your own!
From Top to Bottom
From Top to Bottom
1. Sherry Lee - Holga 135
2. Dave Handler - Holga 120PC
3. America Alfaro - Holga 120N
4. Oliver Tan - 35mm Film in Holga 120N
1. Emmalee Garcia - Holga 120N, double exposure
2. Maria Ruvalcaba - Holga 120N
3. Phil Steblay - HolgaWPC with Rollei Red Bird Film
4. Francesca di Leo - Holga 120N with Rollei Nightbird Film
© 2011 The Holga Manual is created and published by FS Distribution,
a division of Freestyle Photographic Supplies, Hollywood, CA.
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